In her new book, Strangers in Their Own Land, sociologist Arlie Hochschild tackles this paradox. She says that while people might vote against their economic needs, they’re actually voting to serve their emotional needs.
Hochschild says that both conservative and liberals have “deep stories” — about who they are, and what their values are. Deep stories don’t need to be completely accurate, but they have to feel true. They’re the stories we tell ourselves to capture our hopes, pride, disappointments, fears, and anxieties.
It has a self-image of bravado and freedom from government intrustion, but not in regard to black people or women.